Proposed average probate fee increase of 545%
7 November 2018 by Andrea Godfrey
On Monday the Government laid before Parliament new legislation with a proposed structure of court fees payable to obtain a grant of probate. When someone dies and probate is required, these fees are payable by the executor appointed in the Will (or administrators if no Will). In 2017 such a proposal was made however it was never implemented because at the time the elections intervened.
Currently, a flat fee of £155 is payable upon a probate application made by a solicitor (a lay person pays £215). The proposed fees will see a dramatic increase and are based on the value of the estate. The average estates are valued at £300,000 to £500,000 so the new probate fee will be £1000 which is a massive 545% increase.
Estates valued at less than £50,000, will not pay a fee (the current limit is £5000) but in practice, it is rare for an estate of this value to have to go to probate in any event.
The proposed fees are:
Value of estate / Proposed fee
- Up to £50,000 – £0
- £50k-£300k – £300
- £300k-£500k – £1,000
- £500k-£1m – £4,000
- £1m-£1.6m – £8,000
- £1.6m-£2m – £12,000
- More than £2m – £20,000
The probate fee has to be paid in advance of the grant being issued. Therefore the executor (or administrator if there is no Will) will have to settle the fee and later be reimbursed by the estate. The Government states that “The cost of the fee is recoverable from the estate and executors have several options to fund it” – however it is not very clear as to what these options are. In cases where families are dealing with the estate of a loved one, this can add even more worry at a very emotional time.
The proposed increase is not without controversy. Firstly, the argument against the drastic increase is that the Probate Court are providing a service. The same service is applied by the Court regardless of whether a loved one’s estate is worth £100,000 or one million pounds, so the question being asked is why in the latter case should the fee be more when no additional work is undertaken by the Court?
Secondly, the current method that has been adopted to increase these fees, means that the government are proposing to avoid the scrutiny of parliament as the changes will be brought in by way of a statutory instrument.
It remains to be seen whether the new fee increase will be implemented. If you need help with any Probate matters, we can help. Please call us on 01206 700113 or email [email protected]